True forgiveness leaves offenders in their own noose… And a sneak peek at survey results

We Anabaptists say that for a Catholic priest to forgive a penitent sinner is false doctrine. He has no such authority, we say, to stand in the place of God and forgive sins.

We then turn around and teach that victims of sexual abuse and violence must forgive their offenders. It is his/her Christian duty. And we teach that it brings freedom not only to the offended but also to the offender. Moreover, we have members’ meetings in which the guilty are singled out, and the congregation stands to declare forgiveness.

Tell me, if the Catholic priest has no such rights and authority, how can we say that we do? Do we not also stand in the place of God, and encourage victims to do so, when we make forgiveness about the offender? (I understand the priest ‘absolves’ the sinner, which sounds much worse, but only means to set free from guilt or responsibility. So, same thing as forgiveness. Same doctrinal practice).

Forgiveness is one of the most crucial aspects of *our own healing*. It has nothing to do with setting the other person free from their sins or wrongs. It sets *us* free from *their* sins and wrongs. It’s like it cuts the rope of the noose the offender placed around our neck, and allows us to truly live, completely released from him/her and the crimes committed against us.

Part of that noose is vindictiveness; entertaining the urge to retaliate. Part of that noose is vengeance; the act of getting even and letting them have it. Part of that noose is hatred; despising the person rather than the vile acts they committed. When we cut the noose, we release hatred for the person, and we release vengeance and vindictiveness. We are no longer obsessed with getting back at them. We trade those things for compassion, and maintain a desire for truth and justice, and to protect the vulnerable. The latter qualities do not evaporate with forgiveness. In this exchange, when we forgive, we become whole and the noose about our neck is severed.

When we cut that noose, however, offenders are no more free from their noose than before we forgave. He/she must come before God taking full ownership and in full repentance to be freed from the noose around his/her neck. Both ‘cheap forgiveness’ — the kind that quickly tidies things up to look good,  and lack of forgiveness — that keeps us constantly seeking vengeance, hold offender in bondage and do nothing for the freedom of the victim. It is a gift to the offender to be held accountable.

We are set free when we forgive, and we release them to accountability before God and the law.

In other words, forgiveness is an act of faith in God. Through forgiveness we recognize that the offender remains accountable before God for his/her sins/crimes, not to us. Vengeance is not ours; it is Gods.

Forgiveness also does not fulfil the demand of law and government. That is a separate accountability structure. (Romans 13). We have no more authority to ‘forgive’ the offender and ‘free them from responsibility to the law’ than we have to offer eternal life through forgiveness of sins.

False doctrine surrounding forgiveness keeps both victim and offender in bondage to the sin/crime committed. It keeps the victim in bondage to the consequences of the offender’s sins/crimes. We were not designed to carry the consequences of our own sins, let alone the sins of another. We can only choose to take ownership of our healing needs that result from those sins/crimes.

Forgiveness leaves the offender, right there in his/her own noose, before God. Because that noose has nothing to do with the victim. It has everything to do with his/her heart before God. It leaves the offender with the choice to reach up and cry out for forgiveness from God, and turn from the wickedness, or to slowly strangle the life out of him/herself. Our false doctrine of forgiveness leaves the offender to strangle, not realizing that’s what is happening.

True forgiveness, separated from the offender and his/her story, sets the victim free from the offender. It sets the victim free from the offence. It sets the victim free *from the consequences of the offence*. It releases the victim *from* being a victim *to* being empowered.

True forgiveness frees the victim to become an overcomer. And it frees the victim to take ownership of his/her own healing.

That’s what real forgiveness does.



Currently we have a survey looking at Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Responses to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence.  We have 77 responses in under two days, which is outstanding. We are also collecting data on relationship of offender(s) to victims. Some of the results, as usual, are pretty much what we expected. Others are startling. For example:

• 40% of victims have been assaulted by their brothers
• 31%  of victims have been assaulted by family friends
• 27% of victims have been assaulted by their fathers
• 10% of victims have been assaulted by their mothers
• 15% of victims have been sexually assaulted by more than 5 offenders
• Roughly 57% of victims who suffered only SA or only DV left the conservative; When the two are combined — SA & DV — that number jumps to nearly 70%
• 30% of SA victims (no DV) who left the church say leaders played a significant role in their leaving the church; coincidentally 42% of all SA victims (no DV)  would recommend going to leaders
• 36% of DV victims who left the church say leaders’ response played a significant role in leaving the church; 87% advise victims NOT to go to leaders for support
• 42% of SA & DV victims who left the church say leaders’ response played a significant role in leaving the church; 100% advise victims NOT to go to leaders for support

NOTE: While the numbers are startling, it should not be assumed that 10% of all CA survivors (outside of this study) were molested by mothers. There are many factors that could contribute to this representation in this particular survey.

There is much more emerging, and when we have enough participants to feel fairly confident in the data, I plan to do a deep analysis and share some of the graphs and stats here. I’m hopeful that we will have around 200 participants with a bit of time. (Currently we are at 78, so climbing even since writing the last two paragraphs).

I have fine-tuned that survey, and will release the improved version on our new Survey’s Page shortly. (Hoping later tonight). I plan to update this page with new surveys as I get then ready, so check back. While this blog is the sole ownership and responsibility of myself, Trudy Metzger, the data gathered will be used by Generations Unleashed to better understand sexual abuse in our culture. I will also share surveys for other individual i trust, and who are researching sexual abuse.

I am hopeful that as the conversations continue, professionals and support persons alike will be equipped to give better advice and support sexual abuse survivors in our conservative Mennonite culture. For example, if professionals are encouraging victims to go to their leaders, but victims are finding their leaders to be abusive, then such advice should stop.

But it should not end there. Leaders should be trained and equipped to respond in more effective ways. Looking at the results above it appears (and has consistently throughout the survey) that leaders’ response to DV is even more neglectful than sexual abuse. There are many things that play into responses, including silence surrounding the topic. Respondents talked about ‘seeing change’ and ‘being hopeful’ that there is improvement. And some referenced ‘the last 10 years’.

This makes sense to me. The last 10 years is when we’ve started addressing sexual abuse more and more openly. It is anecdotal evidence that conversation is necessary for change. So let’s keep talking!

And, lest I’ve completely distracted you from good intentions, you can take the survey Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Responses to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence and let your voice make a difference. Also, for more accurate results.

As always,

~ T ~


© Trudy Metzger 2019

HAITI UPDATE: Anabaptist Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) Admits Offering Jeriah Mast Victims Cash Payout

Friday August 23, 2019
For weeks there has been rumblings of cash offers to Haitian victims of Jeriah Mast. This dates back to the early exposure of the crimes, and other missionaries’ expressed concerns that someone was offering cash to victims of Jeriah Mast in exchange for silence. Since then, the hush money attempts have continued, and continue still.

I was contacted weeks ago to ask whether I might expose it, saying that individuals representing CAM are offering the victims $8000 each. Money that, up until recently, of the victims of whom I am aware, has been declined. (This I am now told has changed). Due to sparse evidence, I refrained from commenting publicly, and even now will keep this post to a bare minimum.

However, I did receive copies of communication from one of the Haitians, confirming money has been offered (accepted by some) and I believe it warrants public awareness. After the $8000 was declined, a new offer was made for a higher amount I will not disclose. According to sources, victims were allegedly given the choice between a one time lump sum payout greater than $8000, or a considerably higher (double to triple) the amount not as a lump sum, to help with vocational skills, training or starting a business.

Sources say that the country has been split into sections (I am told 5), with a handful of individuals in each of five teams, scouring the country for victims, and offering them cash payouts.

Their lawyer has been meeting with victims without the representation of the victims’ lawyers present. Concerns have surfaced over victims signing under duress, and some victims report being threatened by fellow victims should they refuse to sign.

I suppose this is one way to save themselves money. Especially given that a lawyer – the same one who was instrumental in exposing the Catholic Church, and who was featured in the movie Spotlight – recently won a $60 million settlement for over 150 Haitian victims of Douglas Perlitz, a Jesuit Missionary. No doubt that would make CAM nervous, given there is believed to be as many as 100 victims of Jeriah Mast, or more, according to a statement released by a fellow missionary.

So if money is the most important thing, and ethical responses out the window…

EDIT: What is unethical? It is unethical to say church and state are separate and each are ordained by God as separate entities to do their duty, and the manipulate victims when the law gets involved. It is unethical to push darkness, sin and crime underground. That is not the Jesus Way and it is not living the New Testament of exposing evil and shining Light on sin. It is unethical to make claims to representing and teaching Jesus and then living in a lack of transparency.

Monday August 26, 2019
Writing was put on hold for a few days as life took over… That pause proved to be a good thing, as far as confirmation goes.

Today a friend let me know that Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) has acknowledged that they are indeed paying off the victims of Jeriah Mast in Haiti. The following is a quote sent by CAM via snail mail, in a letter from CAM and included in the June 17 Statement they released:

Update as of August 9, 2019: The Board has authorized a committee in Haiti to carefully consider each case and provide settlement and appropriate assistance for needs of victims.

PLEASE NOTE: This update *has not* been added online to the June 17, 2019 Statement. And I am told it *has not* been sent to donors. I have only been informed of it being sent to those asking to be removed from the CAM mailing list.

Silence comes with a price tag. One that costs much more than the donor funds being used to pay off victims allegedly in exchange for their silence. And that price tag will be paid in souls for many years, apart from deep repentance.

(2 Chronicles 7:14) “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Healing will only come through deep repentance and transparency. And the corruption and vile abuses will only end through deep repentance and bringing all to light. God will bless nothing less.

As always….

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Events and Announcements:

Dayton Virginia: Training and conference, October 9-12, 2019.

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To read a recent 5-part series addressing victim healing and forgiveness for offenders, click: HERE.



Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters


NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

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November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.


If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.



CC Matthews Blog, The Victims, Randal Martin & the Dilemma

Yesterday morning, August 21, 2019, Randal Martin (ASAA founder) contacted me on behalf of one of the victims in the recent blog involving CC Matthews. In it he included a statement from the victim (which I shall withhold; it is hers to share), in which she said she felt disrespected. From her first request to make changes, until that message, I had made every attempt to honour every wish and request, removing her name, removing the link to her story etc.

The one request – to remove the blog – I interpreted to mean remove her blog, which I did. I have been in contact with the site/blog owner since day one. At her request, and with her appreciation I have kept links to her blog, but just the main blog, not specific stories.

This morning, after some engagement with Randal Martin, it became clear that I was being asked to remove my blog. This left me to choose between two victims – the one who wants the blog up, the other who wants it down. Given that I had done everything in my power to honour the other victims requests, I have kept the blog up, and will do so for the present.

I do not wish to dishonour either of the victims. It is an unfortunate situation, at best. There is a deeper story and it needs to be investigated, and those details are emerging. It is a story that is about the handling of things — both the ideal and the negligent — and one that will hopefully lead to healthier responses in the future.

For the present, I am in the dilemma of trying to respect two victims’ requests, and am leaving my blog up with a link to the site. I have (since the day I posted it) told the blog owner I will remove it at her request. That offer remains.


As always…

~ T ~


© Trudy Metzger 2019